Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said that the registration of the “Cypriot Red Soil Potato” as a geographical indication product with the European Union registry is currently underway.

In his address on Thursday at the “Big Potato Festival in Xylophagou”, Xenophontos referred to the recent announcements regarding two key developmental measures under the rural development programme 2014-2020. These measures, namely 4.1, providing financial support for investments in the primary sector, and 6.1, offering assistance for the first installation of new farmers, have garnered significant interest from the rural community.

Following a thorough review of all applications received, as he said, it was decided to increase the subsidy amount to €70 million, up from the initial €36 million originally earmarked. This boost in funding facilitated the approval of all applications meeting the participation criteria.

Xenophontos added the ministry’s commitment to aligning with EU policies and its dedication to expanding initiatives aimed at restructuring and improving the agricultural sector. Examples of these initiatives include reforms in risk management for agricultural production and legislative measures aimed at combating Unfair Trading Practices in the agricultural and food supply chain. Additionally, efforts have been made to enhance the operation of Local Markets for the benefit of farmers.

In response to geopolitical challenges, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said that special budget plans have been devised, with €3.5 million set aside to support the potatoes of the 2022 spring harvest.

Xenophontos announced that Cyprus is currently in the process of registering the name “Cypriot Red Soil Potato” in the EU Geographical Indications registry.

This move, as he said, “is expected to further elevate Cypriot potato cultivation, as Geographical Indications enable consumers to trust and distinguish high-quality products, while simultaneously assisting producers in effectively marketing their products”.

Xenophontos also agree on Thursday, that on September 14, he will meet with potato growers of the area, to discuss problems that they may be encountering.

A small protest was held near the large potato statue in Xylophagou earlier in the day, where growers parked their tractors and displayed signs saying that they need the state’s help, as prices for growing potatoes and the products associated have gone up.

Xenophontos spoke with them as he headed to the festival.